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Swimming, Finals, Day 2 - Phelps is back!

Rio de Janeiro. August 8, 2016. Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia . Pedro Adrega and Camille Chappelet, FINA Communications Department. (IKKOSPORTS) - Michael Phelps is back and ready to shine once more at the Olympics! In the fourth and last final of Day 2 in the Aquatics Stadium, the best athlete in the history of the Games, got his 23rd medal in the competition, and 19th gold, by decisively contributing to the victory of the US 4x100m free relay, in a time of 3:09.92.

Second swimmer of the North American quartet to leave the starting block, Phelps swam his 100m in a very fast 47.12, leaving the way to his teammates Ryan Held and Nathan Adrian to successfully finish the task. Like in Beijing 2008, the silver went to France in 3:10.53. The Europeans had taken revenge four years ago in London, but were unable to repeat the performance in Brazil. The bronze went to Australia in 3:11.37. Before this intense moment, the evening at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium started with the comfortable win of Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) in the women's 100m butterfly in a new World Record of 55.48. It was an improvement of her own previous global mark, achieved at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan (RUS), when she got the gold in 55.64. In Rio, Sjostrom perfectly controlled the race, thus getting her first-ever Olympic medal.

The Swede, world champion in this event in 2009, 2013 and 2015, has been five more times on the podium of FINA's major event, but had finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympics. The champion there, US Dana Vollmer (2011 world champion) was also in the final in Brazil, but had to content this time with the bronze in a time of 56.63. Impressive was Canada's Penny Oleksiak, silver in 56.46, at just 16!

The second WR of the day, and fifth in Rio, came also without surprise in the men's 100m breaststroke. The predictable duel between Adam Peaty (GBR) and Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) was easily won by the British star, who touched for the gold in 57.13. That was a significant improvement compared with his previous global mark, set in the heats of Day 1 in 57.55. Rio 2016 is the first Olympic appearance for Peaty, winner of the Kazan 2015 world medal in this event. Cameron van der Burgh, the defending Olympic champion and four-time medallist at the Worlds, finished second in 58.69, while Cody Miller (USA) closed the podium in 58.87.

In what was perhaps one of the most predictable sessions in Olympic history, Katie Ledecky (USA) also didn't face much opposition from the rest of the field in the women's 400m free. The US prodigy (19 years) cruised to the victory and new World Record in 3:56.46, improving her own 3:58.37 effort from August 2014. This is her third Olympic medal and second individual gold, after the 800m-free victory in London 2012. With the 200m and 800m free still to come, Ledecky now accumulates a perfect record of victories in individual events since London 2012. At the highest level also at the FINA World Championships, she earned seven gold medals in the last two editions (2013 and 2015) of the competition. For the records, the podium in Rio was completed by Jazz Carlin (GBR, silver in 4:01.23) and by Leah Smith (USA, bronze in 4:01.92).

In semi-final action, Sun Yang (CHN, bronze medallist in 2012) was the best in the men's 200m free, qualifying first for the decisive race in 1:44.63. Chad Le Clos (RSA) was seventh, while 2015 world champion James Guy (GBR) closed the group of the eight qualifiers, in 1:46.23. In the women's 100m breaststroke, the final will be an intense battle between Yulia Efimova (RUS, 2015 world champion), the second best qualifier, and Ruta Meilutyte (LTU, 2012 Olympic champion), the fourth best of the semis. The surprise may come from 19-year-old Lilly King (USA), the fastest going into the final in 1:05.70. In the men's 100m backstroke, 2015 world champion Mitch Larkin (AUS) will have to overcome US duet Ryan Murphy (52.49) and David Plummer (52.50), the fastest qualifiers going to the final. Larkin is so far third, in 52.70. Finally, in the women's 100m back, Katinka Hosszu (HUN), winner with WR of the 400m IM on Day 1, will depart from lane 5 in the final, only being beaten by US Kathleen Baker in the semis. Veteran Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) couldn't make it through, concluding in 11th.

QUOTES

Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), gold, women's 100m fly

"I know that I am in a good shape and I did a very good time. I know I have a good chance to win more medals at these Games but I am already very happy with my medal from today. I will see which events I have the best chance for."

"I knew I was the fastest when I did a good turn, my hands were perfect. I knew it would be hard for the others to swim faster but I kept focus until the end to make sure to win."

"This medal is the heaviest I have ever won. It is the best feeling ever. The Olympics were the only missing medal for me so of course it was my goal to get it. But I didn't think too much about this before the race to avoid stressing out."

"My brother is much younger than me, 13 years old younger. He could be my son, we are so close. He was waving at me from the public after the race, he was really happy."

"I have been dealing with pressure pretty well. It has been tough but I have a lot of support from my team. I have to put up with a lot of work and make sure I don't get injured. There has been a lot of ups and downs."

Penny Oleksiak (CAN), silver, women's 100m fly

"It is super amazing. I still have a few more years left as a junior, taking that time down is going to be fun." "It's inspiring to see athletes older than me still competing, I look up to Audrey Lacroix (CAN), she is 32 and still competing. I have a few years left. I can't say what is next but I will always race my hardest."

Dana Vollmer (USA), bronze, women's 100m fly

"I haven't called my son yet to let him know but I will soon. I want to make him proud of his mummy. It was a personal goal and I am so happy with that bronze because I never knew if I was going to be able to make it back, if I would be able to make my time again."

"I had to dream big. It can't get bigger than racing Sarah. I was giving every day all I had while training, keeping her in mind. Tonight I walk away happy."

"I touched the wall and I was just like, 'please let it be a medal'. All I wanted to do was dive in and know I had given it everything I had. No matter what the outcome was I was just going to be proud of that."

"I've always set extremely lofty goals and to come back (after having a baby) here and race Sarah, that is setting it at absolutely the top bar. Having taken all those little steps, I feel I have appreciated every day. I remember my first 100m butterfly when I came back being 1.09 and I remember thinking, 'wow, it's going to take me a while to get back down there'.

"I am more appreciative of every single moment I have out here as you just never know if you will get another moment. I didn't know if I was even going to get here so I am extremely proud of my race."

"My husband and my son are home watching and my parents and my brother are here in the crowd. It's just been a family journey this time around and I couldn't have done it without all the sacrifices my husband made to allow me to go to training and having my son come around to meets with me has been really fun."

Adam Peaty (GBR), gold, men's 100m breast

"I hope I will be able to sleep tonight, and spend some time with my family. I have more races coming up so I will keep focus. My family knew how much this meant to me, they saw in my eyes how happy I was." "Racing from my country, the queen, my friends and family is what matters the most to me."

"I didn't really think about the WR. I gave myself absolutely 100% every day and it has been paying off. It's as simple as it is, I keep my mind very calm during the race. I hope we will move the boundaries even further in the years to come."

"My family means absolutely everything. All the years of hardship. I've come back time after time and every time someone has got me down, I've come back stronger. I'll continue to do that until I retire." "My nan is very competitive and has always supported me. I can't wait to go home and give my grand-mother a massive hug."

"I am not scared of the water anymore. I didn't want to have a shower when I was a kid but I have overcome this fear and now it's what I love to do. I am still a big kid, I haven't grown up. My mum gave me the confidence to be who I am and the maturity is coming so I can achieve more things."

"I knew I had a good race, it was already a WR in the heats but of course you never know until you see the screen. It is everything I have ever dreamed for. The best feeling I have ever had." "I am going to look back now and see how this race can be improved. I have maybe another 8 more years in the sport so let's see where I can go."

Cameron Van Der Burgh (RSA), silver, men's 100m breast

"I am super stoked to add a silver to my gold. I knew from the warm-up I could not go 57 (seconds). So if Adam was going to plan and he did his job then...

"My body feels super strong but my stroke was not connected, my timing was off. I was a bit on, a bit off." "Olympic gold, you can't take that away from him. I have always said I want to race people at their best. I am super stoked for him, I know what it is like to be an Olympic champion."

"It was spectacular to be a part of a 57 (seconds) race. Now I am going to party a bit."

Cody Miller (USA), bronze, men's 100m breast

"My mum doesn't know how to swim but she raised me the best way she could. She took three jobs to provide to me and my sister and so that I could stay to the pool."

"I haven't seen a replay of the race yet. It is still a big blur but it's an honnour to be part of this great groups of swimmers."

"It was no doubt the fastest heat of 100m breaststroke ever. I can feel the stack right now, and for me to get my hand on the wall and a medal for my country, I honestly can't describe how it feels. I just always hoped I would get a medal. Yeah, that was pretty cool. That was something."

"You know the cool thing about that race was that pretty much everyone shook hands before racing started. I shook Peaty's hand, I shook everyone's hand. We're competitors but we're all really cool and just a great group of guys. I'm honoured to be a part of this." Katie Ledecky (USA), gold, women's 400m free

"To see 3:56 was really exciting and I also quickly looked at Leah's time and it was exciting too. It's so good to have her (Leah Smith) on the podium too. We're going to sing the anthem together and have some fun." "Hopefully Leah and I have inspired the relay. We can take a little credit for it."

"Bruce and I had a meeting after Barcelona and set the goals all the way through 2016. We have a great team and they have a lot of seats for the team."

"3:56 was the goal I set after Barcelona 2013 (world championship). So it feels really good. I'm pumped. I was so close to breaking it (this morning). I felt good throughout. The swim was almost identical to this morning, but with a bit more pop on the last lap. It's pure happiness."

"The atmosphere in Rio has been great so far, you can see the crowd really cheering us and giving us a lot of energy. I was really focused and didn't hear the noise. Really looking forward to the rest of the week." "There are so many WR because it's the Olympics. Everybody builds towards this year and swim their fastest."

Jazz Carlin (GBR), silver, women's 400m free

"In 2012 I was watching the races in the stands and I saw Katie win there, it was a magic moment. But now being in the race plus on the podium is crazy. I don't think I will have a lot of sleep tonight. I am just happy I dropped 2 sec from my own time."

"My father had health problems some years ago but swimming helped me through it. It kept me going. I am glad my parents are here now to see me on the podium."

"It is definitely a fast pool and I feel great in it. The venue and the crowd have been amazing so far." "I knew it was going to be a tough race. Obviously Katie did great this morning in the heats and I knew she'd be going for the world record but I just wanted to try to get on that podium and to come away with a silver medal."

Leah Smith (USA), bronze, women's 400m free

"It means a lot to me. It is my first Olympics. I haven't processed it at all. This morning's heats were pretty fast. I kept my eyes on Jazz and I kept swimming even though I was in a lot of pain."

"It is so exciting to hear the crowd screaming. You pretend it is for you but you know it is for Katie." "I have been training with Katie for months so I knew this was coming and I was just so happy for her." "Normally when I swim I like to be out front but when I'm next to Katie I still have really good races. Even though she was so far ahead of me I like swimming next to Katie. I mean, if I am any where near her I am probably having a good race."

"I've trained with her for the past month and the times she was putting up make me look like I was going to go five minutes. She is amazing and I knew she was going to get that time tonight."

Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay

Gold - USA

Ryan Held: "I was very emotional but it was just the thought of me making my first international swim beside this morning. There was something different about this one. I couldn't hold my tears." "Before the race, Phelps told me to enjoy. It is a unique experience and he said 'good job buddy' after the race."

"Adrian is a great leader. I gained confidence hanging around him and the others. He taught me to stay calm even if this is the Olympics. It is no different from any other races."

Bronze - Australia

James Magnussen: "That race was wide open, and all teams could have won. If you have a line you got a chance, this was the mentality tonight." "Phelps is definitely an inspiration for all of us. We all dream about the career as his, staying at the top for so long. He is a role model."

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